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Hyperion Records

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Seated Angels with Orbs in their Hands (c1348-1354) by Ridolfo di Arpo Guariento (c1310-c1370)
Museo Civico, Padua, Italy / Alinari / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67768
Recording details: June 2009
Wells Cathedral, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: September 2010
Total duration: 3 minutes 24 seconds

'Dove's fresh, diatonic idiom is coupled to a matchless sense of word-setting … he writes most gratefully for the voice, with the intensity of Kenneth Leighton, the bravura of Britten and the timeless ecstasy of Tavener … the Wells choristers tackle everything with aplomb, élan and evident enjoyment' (Gramophone)

'Matthew Owens has clearly prepared the choir with scrupulous sensitivity, and conducts with an incisive freshness … Dove's music is splendidly effective and brightly expressive' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Wells is currently enjoying a superb top line, rewardingly displayed in this collection of Jonathan Dove's radiant choral works, including a first recording of his sparkling Missa Brevis' (The Observer)

'Wells must currently stand as England's finest cathedral choir, and its legacy of promoting contemporary church music will remain long after every treble voice here has become a baritone, tenor or bass … as it stands today, that top line has unfailing precision of pitch and unaffected beauty of tone, while the men possess the flexibility and collective musicianship to underlay that top line with impeccable textural clarity and satisfying tonal depth … few will not respond to the sparkling and angelic 'Wellcome, all wonders in one sight!' … while 'Run, shepherds, run!' … adds a moment of high drama, reminding us vividly of Dove's operatic credentials … this disc offers some moments of pure magic and many truly uplifting experiences' (International Record Review)

'Into thy hands, using as texts two 12th-century prayers, offers evidence that modern religious choral music need not descend into wince-inducing happy-clappy idiocy. Dove charms and beguiles us, and the performances by the Wells Cathedral Choir under Matthew Owens are faultless. There’s also the recording quality, with the cathedral acoustic offering just enough reverberance to give the voices a heavenly glow' (TheArtsDesk.com)

The Star-Song
First line:
Tell us, thou clear and heavenly tongue
composer
2008
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Star-Song is a piece for Christmas which, like Wellcome, all wonders, uses different characters to create a little drama. In this case it is a dialogue between the star in the east and a chorus (perhaps representing the shepherds). The poem is by Robert Herrick (1591–1674) and he colourfully has the chorus asking where Christ is to be found. The assumption is that he will be laid in lily-banks or in ‘some ark of flowers’ or ‘in the morning’s blushing cheek’ and so on. The star replies emphatically ‘No’, and tells them that he is simply at his mother’s breast. The chorus then replies ecstatically that ‘He’s seen, He’s seen!’ and that they will give him ‘wassailing’ and ‘choose Him King, and make His mother Queen’. It is a wonderfully upbeat poem and Dove’s response to it is simple and effective. The organ part creates a ‘bright and twinkling’ star effect which continues throughout as another moto perpetuo. The tenors and basses are the chorus and the upper voices represent the star. When the moment of recognition comes the whole choir sings together. The use of a constant 7/8 metre keeps the excitement buzzing, and the ending simply flies into the air.

from notes by Paul Spicer © 2010

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